Wednesday, 10 September 2014

York Enduro MTB Rally: Sabie 3-7 September 2014

Wow! I honestly believe this is one of the best events in the country at this moment. Something a little different yes, but this might just become the future of the sport we love. York Timbers started with this concept last year and it was a major success. This year they went even bigger. The effort and organization was absolutely mind blowing!
I was invited as one of 24 pro riders. On day 1 we had to race down a mountain to see who could set the fastest time on 4.2km of the best single track I’ve ever ridden. This would be the opportunity for each of us "pro's" to show the 24 corporate teams invited how well we can ride bicycles. After a long day of training I had solid run in the final with no mistakes and managed to win the downhill. Very surprising to most, seeing that I was on a hard tail.

The corporate teams then had a chance to buy a pro by means of a silent auction/elimination process. I was paired up with the York Invitational guys. Between Justin Victor, Owen Hanie and Danny Spence I didn't feel very "pro" to be honest. We also had oom Oscar from York. Some local knowledge is always a big help of course.

Day 2 & 3 where the proper enduro stages. Each day was between 35 and 40km with 8 timed segments in total. The idea here was for us to ride together as a team of 5. Then each rider would hit the timed sections as hard as possible and wait for all members at the bottom, regroup and continue. 

Remembering the rough terrain from last year, I kitted my Ritchey Vantage Carbon wheel set out with some bulletproof Continental X-Kings. In this game you have to risk it if you want the biscuit. Taking risks and riding on the limit for a few days means it’s inevitable that mistakes will happen. I made mistakes, but the Dogma was faultless. 

I ended up winning a few of these segments as individual and with my "ex pro" team we also did pretty well compared to the others.

Saturday afternoon we took part in a "Dual Slalom Eliminator". Basically we raced our bikes down a twisty short course over a few jumps for a rather large amount of money.

It all went very well. I had a tight battle with Justin Victor in the semis, made it to the final and then I was taught a lesson in cornering by Ollie Munnik.

Sunday morning we all took part in a very relaxed 40km half marathon around Sabie. This was a nice warm up for the spectacular XCO showdown to close off the event in the afternoon.

After a few long days in the lowveld sun we lined up for the big burner. 2 laps around the very well-built 2.2km course. This was one of the most fun courses I’ve ever ridden. A wonderful mix of everything from rocks to roots. Logs and jumps with beautiful berms, they’ve done a spectacular job!

With the race being so short I knew who to watch and that they will be going hard from the gun. My plan was to stay calm and follow, but still be close to the front at all times. I was happy to sit 2nd or 3rd wheel for the first lap and a half. I made my move and no one followed so I rode of and took the win!

Big thank you to York Timbers and everyone involved in this event. It is a really great concept and I hope to see it grow and take off in the future.